Saturday, December 15, 2012

Beached As bro: Rochdale Cider Sunday Sessions at Beach Road Hotel

Summer is upon us so it's the season for the beach, outdoors and spot of cider - and it's all on at the Rochdale Cider 'Beached As' Sunday Sessions at Beach Road Hotel.

Get to the newly renovated, colourful outdoor beer garden - called The Backyard - at the Bondi pub any Sunday in December and January to sample a Rochdale Cider or two, and a summery menu created by Gastro Park head chef Grant King.

Rochdale Traditional Cider as part of Beached As Sunday Sessions,
Beach Road Hotel, Bondi
King's collaboration menu of small bites are matched to the New Zealand apple cider, which is new to our neighbouring shores.

Hailing from McCashin's Brewery at Nelson on the South Island of Kiwi Land, Rochdale Cider uses New Zealand apples and pure 'palaeo' water for a 5.0% alcoholic volume that puts it on par with full-strength beer.

It's medium bodied, not too sweet although I wouldn't call it dry, and has a crisp, apple-y finish which leads me to think that a Rochdale Cider session could go some distance on a hot, summery day.

Gastro Park head chef Grant King cooking with Rochdale Cider at Beach Road Hotel
(Image courtesy of One Green Bean)
King has a fittingly Kiwi background and brings a higher-end dining approach to the cider-inspired pub menu, although he admits that "it's not rocket science". He'll be on hand at the Beach Road Hotel at tomorrow's session.

As part of the Beached As Sunday Sessions, a Rochdale Cider and a menu item combo go for $12.50, although you'll probably want to try them all.

Cider slider - cider baked pig, crunchy crackle and apple celeriac slaw
The Cider Slider features pork baked in cider and a scattering golden crackling pieces that range from deliciously crunchy to tooth-endangering hard.

The creamy shreds of apple and celeriac of the slaw lighten the load within the cute, sesame-topped, soft burger buns.

Crispy claw - crispy cider batter encasing soft shell crab, lemon and lime mayonnaise
in a lettuce leaf with cucumber and coriander
The Claw comprises a iceberg lettuce leaf wrapped around soft shell crab claws in a cider batter, which doesn't sound like an easy feat given the sugar content, and thus heaviness, of the cider.

Nonetheless, the crab is a star, enhanced with a zingy mayonnaise and fresh cucumber and coriander. Don't put it down though, as the lettuce leaf gets a little messy after a bite and is not so much under wraps.

Vegetarian option - crispy cider batter salt and pepper tofu, lemon and lime mayonnaise
in a lettuce leaf with cucumber and coriander
There's also a vegetarian option of the lettuce wrap with salt and pepper tofu instead of the soft shell crab.

I'm not sure if it was the copious amount of mayonnaise in my tofu lettuce wrap, but I found the softly fried tofu almost more enjoyable than the crab version.

The Rochdale Frostie - cider caramelised apple ice cream, granny smith popping candy
A dessert matched to cider seems an unlikely concept but King delivers a particularly creamy ice cream with cubes of cider caramelised apple, which is really quite spectacular and honeyed in flavour.

The ice cream is also topped with a fun crumble of granny smith apple popping candy, not all of which fizzles on the tongue. It's a pleasant end to a meal, and unexpectedly so with the cider.

So, tomorrow, or any Sunday in December or January, beach yourself with a couple of Rochdale Ciders and Gastro Park fare at Beach Road Hotel - you'll have a whale of a time.

(And just because I love this video, this is the 'Beached As' Kiwi connection: "I'm beached as bro!")

Food, booze and shoes attended the Beached As Sunday Session at Beach Road Hotel as a guest, with thanks to One Green Bean.

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